We experience “the economy” through all sorts of transactions, organizations and forms of work. Often, however, our thinking defaults to mainstream ways of doing things, and we assume that the economy is fundamentally rooted in waged employment, private companies and market-based transactions.
An alternative way of thinking about the economy is to consider all of the practices and relationships through which personal well-being is generated. These practices go well beyond the formal and measurable aspects of economic life. Furthermore, they are not limited to the logics of profit maximization and personal accumulation that motivate capitalist relationships. They may instead be driven by love, care, cooperation, responsibility, sharing or sustainability. Such practices might include volunteerism, unpaid care work, collective investment, philanthropy or social enterprise.
The economic relationships that bind together Canada and the Philippines take many forms. There are the mainstream and measurable economic linkages between the two countries that take the form of investment by firms and trade in goods and services. There are also (far larger) flows of money in the form of remittances sent home to family members by Filipinos in Canada.
In this collaborative research project, however, we are interested in those transnational economic practices that fall outside either the mainstream economy of corporate trade and investment or the private flows of remittances between family members. We are instead seeking those linkages that depend on the social networks created by migration and which generate or promote collectivized or non-monetized forms of well-being. This might include:
- humanitarian fundraising for typhoon victims
- collective financing of social infrastructure such as school or clinics
- the donation of volunteer skilled labour by members of the Filipino diaspora who return to the Philippines
- networks of unpaid labour to care for children and the elderly
- the fostering of alternative economic imaginaries through activism
- the creation of channels to export products from small-scale and sustainable enterprises in the Philippines
Our research will profile these kinds of practices, will assess them critically, and will seek to foster the expansion of socially beneficial transnational economic practices.
The project is based at the York Centre for Asian Research at York University, Toronto, and it is lead by Philip Kelly. Our core research team includes Leonora Angeles (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), Lynne Milgram (OCAD University, Toronto), Marla Asis (Scalabrini Migration Centre, Quezon City), Jeff Ducanes (University of the Philippines, Quezon City) and Andre Ortega (University of the Philippines, Quezon City). We are also connected with collaborators at the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, the Miriam College Women and Gender Institute, and Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation. Melissa Gibson is the Manila-based coordinator and research assistant.
On this website, you can learn more about our research team and collaborators, our cases studies and some of the data we are sharing. Please do get in touch for more information.